Monday, June 22, 2009

The Happy Moon Days

Moon landingSo. The moon landings. Did they really happen or are they one of the biggest hoaxes of the 20th Century?

This isn’t a random thought that has just popped into my head (honestly, my random thoughts would make scary reading most days) but has been shoehorned there by watching “James May On The Moon” on the BBC last night.

Alas Mr May was neither flying to the moon nor exposing his shabbily trousered butt-cheeks to the good people of NASA but was instead delivering a documentary about the moon landings. And a rather good one at that.

I have no memory of the original moon landing given that it happened 2 months before I was born but I do take great pleasure in the fact that I was born into an age where men had finally set foot onto another planet. The very idea of it – people walking around on the surface of a world other than Earth – even today astounds me.

And yet, in other respects, we are so blasé about the idea of interplanetary space travel these days (with the sheer volume of sci-fi entertainment available to us) that for most teens and twenty somethings the idea of visiting planet Zog to buy a lightsaber elicits nothing more than a shrug. The idea of it has become somehow just an inevitable progression of modern technology. It’s accepted that it might not happen in this day and age but one day it most certainly will.

It’s just going to happen, OK? It’s no big deal. It’s just a matter of when not if.

But it is a big deal.

May was fortunate to be taken up 13 miles – to the very edge of space – by the United States Air Force in one of their impressively humungous U2 spy planes. A plane that resembles a pencil with the wings of an albatross.

May was visibly moved. It wasn’t difficult to see why. Looking down on a jumbo jet that is as far below you as it normally is above you when you’re standing on the planet must have been a jaw dropping experience. And then to realize that the only people higher than you are the people in the International Space Station... well, let’s hope the toilet pump in the space suit May was wearing was working properly.

It must be incredibly humbling. To be that far up and see the curvature of the earth... Imagine then to be 384403 kilometres away on the surface of the moon and to be able to blot out the entire Earth with the palm of your hand – as indeed one of the astronauts actually did.

How fragile we all are. How small.

Which brings me back to my original question. Was it all just a hoax?

I don’t think it was.

I know the conspiracy theorists out there will always argue that the whole thing was faked but yah-boo-sucks-phooey to them.

It was real. You could see it in the faces of the astronauts that May spoke to – the wonder, the mind altering awe of having actually stood on another planet. It was as real as this ergonomically unsound chair beneath my iron-hard buttocks. I’d stake my very virtue on it.

Why then have we never been back? the conspiracists argue. The fact that we haven’t must prove it. We can’t go back because to get there in the first place is impossible.

Rubbish.

What is there to go back to? Until technology has advanced far enough that we can export a whole construction site up there and build Moon World there is very little point spending billions of dollars and risking lives just to send men up there to leap about and collect another handful of moon rocks to prove a point that the conspiracy theorists still won’t believe anyway.

Sod them.

Let them mope about in their miserable “we’re stuck on this planet forever and can’t get off it” headspace.

My imagination is bigger, brighter, richer and infinitely further reaching for a having a suitcase packed ready for my imminent trip to planet Zog...

From up here the Earth looks wonderful. And the rest of the universe looks... well, excitingly inviting.

Houston. I’m ready when you are.


24 comments:

Rol said...

They sent James May up into space... and let him come back down?

Now that's what I call a missed opportunity.

Steve said...

Rol: I think it was more a case of not wanting to pollute the austere purity of space with yet more of Earth's detritus...

A Write Blog said...

Don't get me started on about conspiracy theorists.

Human beings are just too stupid - and basically honest - to be able to get away with such bollocks for any length of time. Someone would give the game away.

Getting a whole string of people to lie about something in EXACTLY the same way for more than a day or two would be well nigh impossible.

Conspiracies are, by their nature, short-lived affairs that can only work until soneone lets the cat out of the bag.

I was on a school holiday in Derbyshire and we stayed up to watch the landings. I still remember it.

It was enthralling.

Steve said...

AWB: my thoughts exactly. If it was a hoax some coke-head engineer from NASA would have spilled the beans to the tabloids by now to pay for his next fix of charlie...

Tenon_Saw said...

I think there was a world Green Cheese shortage at the time; so they HAD to go.

Owen said...

So you mean to say your blog posts are not composed of your more "random" thoughts? I'd like to see more of those then, and I don't mind scary reading... really ! :-D

I just hope tickets to the Moon or to Mars will be cheap enough before I have to check out of this earthly hotel that I can get there at least once... well, would a one way ticket be half price ???

In reference to the discussion that was going on over at the Poet Laureate's place, maybe if mass transit could be developed before the human race self destructs, perhaps a few billion people could be shuttled to Mars. Once the word starts filtering back about how harsh conditions are there, maybe those remaining here on Earth would take better care of the place??? (I know, I'm a dreamer)

Steve said...

Tenon_Saw: I heard that Wallace had scoffed all of the world's Wensleydale...

Owen: good point. I think possibly that all my thoughts might be random. Certainly I can discern no rhyme or reason to them most days... I like your theory too: the grass is a lot greener on this side if only we'd wake up and realize it (and then start looking after it)!

French Fancy said...

I believe it happened and I think some of these conspiracy theorists are just nutters with too much time on their hands. I was very young when it happened and I remember being stunned that my parents sat up all night watching this 'moon landing' thing.

Did you ever see that Channel 4 reality show that Johnny Vaughan fronted - the one where they pretended to take people on a moon mission. It was very funny and a bit sad too.

Steve said...

FF: the Johnny Vaughan thing is definitely ringing a few bells. I didn't see the programme but distinctly remember it being trailored on TV - Channel 4 wasn't it? May have to Google it...!

Clippy Mat said...

Aiken Drum was there first but he did say that he saw Neil's first step, proving that it was no hoax after all.
:-)

Steve said...

Clippy Mat: I hope he offered Neil a good slap-up meal... the sight of all that roast beef hanging around would have had Neil's mouth watering after all that NASA liquid food!

Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh yes, I agree with the others - a conspiracy could not have held up this long.

Mind you, I used to believe that The Clangers were real so I am clearly very gullible.

I can see what you mean about looking down on the earth from so far away - but going into space has no appeal for me at all. And I'd certainly not go if there were any chance James May could still be up there! If it were The Stig that would be a different matter!

Steve said...

Gina: you've really surprised me. I didn't think Michael Schumacher was at all your bag!

And as for The Clangers. They are real. They are. I refuse to believe otherwise. You'll be telling me next that Muffin The Mule was a puppet.

missbehaving said...

I don't think it's a hoax for a second.
I wonder though why so many US films use the moon landings to offer an historical context and British films don't. Did less people in the UK have access to a TV at that time? Or are there just less UK films depicting that era?
Now I am going to be wondering about this all day!

Steve said...

Missbehaving: I suspect we Brits (quite rightly) have the sulks as our Government cut the funding for our own space projects sometime after WWII. We could have got there first Goddammit!

The Sagittarian said...

jeez louise, I bet you believe the earth is flat too!

spacekids team said...

Great programme, really enjoyed it and James May was great. No doubt in my mind - it certainly happened.

Conspiracy theorists give people credit for being able to keep a secret, and don't check their so-called facts!

Steve said...

Amanda: everybody knows it is a flat disc supported on the backs of 4 cosmic elephants...!

Spacekids Team: great to have you on board! Love "Conspiracy theorists give people credit for being able to keep a secret" - I want that printed onto a t-shirt! :-)

French Fancy said...

Reluctant Blogger - the Clanger are real, No doubt about it.

Steve said...

FF: that's what I told her!

skatey katie said...

when i was six weeks old, my daddy held me up to the front window to "watch the rocket go past".
i'm a believer X

Steve said...

Katie: Houston and I are glad to have you on board! Please enjoy your flight!

Nota Bene said...

A defining moment in my childhood. And a great programme by Mr May. Did someone say the Clangers are not real?

Steve said...

Nota Bene: if someone did they'd better be washing their filthy lying mouth out with soap!